Indo-American Arts Council
World As Family – A Journey of Multi Rooted Belongings
by Author Vishakha Desai.
Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 8 PM EST
About the Book
A Vedic phrase asks us to “treat the world as family.” In our age of global crises—pandemics, climate crisis, crippling inequality—this sentiment is more necessary than ever. Solutions to these seemingly insurmountable problems demand new approaches to thinking and acting locally, nationally, and transnationally, sometimes sequentially but often simultaneously. This is the mentality of the immigrant, the exchange student, the global native, and all who have made a life in a new place by choice or by necessity. Yet we suffer from a lack of the truly capacious thinking that is so urgently needed.
Vishakha N. Desai uses her life experiences to explore the significance of living globally and its urgency for our current moment. She weaves her narrative arc from growing up in a Gandhian household in Ahmedabad to arriving in the United States as a seventeen-year-old exchange student and her subsequent career as a dancer, curator, institutional leader, and teacher against the broad sweep of political and social changes in the two countries she calls home. Through her personal story, Desai reframes the idea of what it means to be global, considering how to lead a life of multiple belongings without losing local and national affinities. Vividly conjuring the complexities and exhilaration of a life that is rooted in many places, World as Family is a vital book for everyone who aspires to connect across borders—real and perceived—and bring to fruition the ideal of a global family.
THE INDO-AMERICAN ARTS COUNCIL PRESENTS BOOK LAUNCH OF
“WORLD AS FAMILY – A JOURNEY OF MULTI ROOTED BELONGINGS”
BY AUTHOR Dr. VISHAKHA DESAI
THURSDAY, JULY 15, 2021 AT 8 PM EST
NEW YORK, NY – July 10, 2021 – A Vedic phrase asks us to “treat the world as family.” In our age of global crises—pandemics, climate crisis, crippling inequality—this sentiment is more necessary than ever. Author Dr. Vishakha N. Desai in her book –World As Family - A Journey of Multi rooted belongings– uses her life experiences to explore the significance of living globally and its urgency for our current moment. The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) will host an early preview of the book with a panel discussion on Thursday July 15 at 8PM ET. The event will be held virtually and will be live streamed online.
Dr. Vishakha Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and is a Global Thought Scholar. She will be in conversation with author Jennifer Acker, founder and editor in chief of The Common: Poet, fabulist and librettist Karthika Naïr and Amina J. Akram, Founder and CEO of Ouraan, a subscription book club for children of all ages. The event will be led by IAAC Vice Chairman Rakesh Kaul with Nili Lakhani, IAAC Lit Director as MC. There will also be a Q&A portion following the live broadcast.
In the book, Vishakha weaves her narrative arc from growing up in a Gandhian household in Ahmedabad to arriving in the United States as a seventeen-year-old exchange student and her subsequent career as a dancer, curator, institutional leader, and teacher against the broad sweep of political and social changes in the two countries she calls home. Through her personal story, she reframes the idea of what it means to be global, considering how to lead a life of multiple belongings without losing local and national affinities. Vividly conjuring the complexities and exhilaration of a life that is rooted in many places, World as Family is a vital book for everyone who aspires to connect across borders—real and perceived—and bring to fruition the ideal of a global family.
Suman Gollamudi, IAAC Executive Director, said, “For many of my friends, and me, who identify as global citizens, there is always a sense of discomfort and lack of clarity about how to live with a global consciousness without giving up a sense of rootedness. Vishakha offers a unique perspective for so many of us seeking an identify and searching for a sense of belonging.”
Rakesh Kaul, IAAC Vice Chairman stated, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts such as the Maha Upanishad, which means "the world is one family”. This phrase has become very apt during these troubled times. COVID has shown all of us that the world is more interlinked and interdependent than ever. We firmly believe that the Gandhian vision of holistic development and respect for all forms of life should be the guiding principle for all. IAAC is proud to present this essential conversation on multi-cultural awareness, featuring voices of three inspiring young global citizens.”
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About Vishakha N. Desai
Vishakha Desai is the Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University, Chair of the Committee on Global Thought and Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies at the School of International and Public Affairs.
Dr. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a global organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships among peoples of Asia and the U.S. from 2004 through 2012. As President, she set the direction for the Society’s diverse sets of programs ranging from policy initiatives and national educational programs to ground breaking exhibitions and performing arts programs throughout its network of eleven offices in the U.S. and Asia. Prior to becoming President, Dr. Desai held various senior positions at the Asia Society from 1990 to 2004. Before joining the Asia Society in 1990, Dr. Desai was at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as a Curator for Indian and Southeast Asian art and as the Head of Public Programs and Academic Affairs. She has taught at Columbia University, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts where she was given a tenured appointment. A Scholar of Asian Art and a public intellectual, Dr. Desai is a frequent speaker at international forums on subjects focusing on cultural roots of Asia’s economic and political transformation and challenges. She has authored opinion pieces on political, cultural, and women’s development in Asia that have appeared in more than fifty publications around the world. Author of major exhibition catalogues and editor of a major scholarly publication on Asian Art History for the 21st Century.
She currently serves as the sole female independent director on the Corporate Board of Mahindra and Mahindra, one of the five largest global companies in India. She currently serves as a Trustee of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Chair of the Board of Trustees to AFS Intercultural Programs, and as a member of the board of directors for Teach For All and KREA University. She is also Chair of the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center. She has served on numerous other boards of not-for-profit organizations nationally and internationally. These include but are not limited to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Brookings Institution, Bertelsmann Foundation, Auroville Foundation of India, and the House of World Cultures in Berlin.
Dr. Desai holds a B.A. in political Science from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan. In 2012, in recognition of Dr. Desai’s leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museums and Library Services Board.
Dr. Desai is married to Robert B. Oxnam, a China scholar, who was Asia Society’s President from 1981-1992.
About Jennifer Acker
Jennifer Acker is the Founder and editor in chief of The Common, and author of the debut novel The Limits of the World, a fiction honoree for the Massachusetts Book Award. Her memoir “Fatigue” is a #1 Amazon bestseller, and her short stories, essays, translations, and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, Literary Hub, n+1, Guernica, The Yale Review, Off Assignment, and Ploughshares, among other places. Acker has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches writing and editing at Amherst College, where she directs the Literary Publishing Internship and LitFest. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, philosopher Nishi Shah. Find her on Twitter @jen_acker, and read more online at jenniferacker.com
About Karthika Naïr
Karthika Nair is the coauthor of A Different Distance. She is a poet, fabulist and librettist whose books include The Honey Hunter, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet. Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, her reimagining of the foundational South Asian epic in multiple voices, won the 2015 Tate Literature Live Award for Book of the Year (Fiction), was shortlisted for the Atta Galatta Prize and highly commended in the 2016 Forward Prizes. Naïr has scripted and coscripted performances for choreographers Akram Khan (DESH, Chotto Desh, and Until the Lions, adapted from her own book), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Damien Jalet (Babel 7.16), and Carlos Pons Guerra (Mariposa). She is the co-founder of Cherkaoui’s Antwerp-based dance company, Eastman, and executive producer of several of his and Damien Jalet's works.
About Amina J. Akram
Amina Akram is the Founder and CEO of Ouraan, a subscription book club for children of all ages that exists to bring people closer together through unique stories and shared experiences. Prior to Ouraan, Amina practiced law in one of the most prestigious law firms in the world, Milbank LLP, where she represented large financial institutions and individuals in complex litigation and regulatory investigations. Before Milbank, Amina served as Foreign Legal Counsel at the top Brazilian law firm, Pinheiro Neto Advogados, where she advised on transnational litigation and arbitration matters. Amina started her legal career in New York as a litigation associate at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, where she represented institutional shareholders in securities fraud actions, sovereign governments, and individuals.
Amina was born and raised in Pakistan and moved to the US in 2001. Since then, she has lived in several places across the globe, including New York, Sao Paulo, Los Angles, and Houston. For most of her childhood, Amina read whatever limited content was available in her school, the local market, and local library. At 16, in her first act of teenage rebellion, Amina read Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which was banned in Pakistan. From there, she would have friends bring her books from outside Pakistan that shaped her thinking. These stories enabled her to dream beyond the constraints of her society and to fulfill her potential.
Amina speaks three languages: English, Urdu and Portuguese. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her love for stories, real and fiction, is only surpassed by her love for her family
The Indo-American Arts Council supports all the artistic disciplines in classical, fusion, folk and innovative forms influenced by the arts of India. We work cooperatively with colleagues around the United States to broaden our collective audiences and to create a network for shared information, resources and funding. Our focus is to help artists and art organizations in North America as well as to facilitate artists from India to exhibit, perform and produce their work here.
The IAAC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization passionately dedicated to promoting, showcasing and building an awareness of the arts and artists whose heritage lies in the Indian subcontinent in the performing arts, visual arts, literary arts and folk arts. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by the law. For information, please visit www.IAAC.us.
Executive Director, Indo-American Arts Council
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